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Decatur, Texas facts for kids

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Decatur, Texas
Downtown Decatur
Downtown Decatur
Little D
Location of Decatur, Texas
Location of Decatur, Texas
Wise County Decatur.svg
Country United States
State Texas
County Wise
 • Total 8.78 sq mi (22.75 km2)
 • Land 8.78 sq mi (22.75 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,102 ft (336 m)
 • Total 6,042
 • Estimate 
 • Density 807.70/sq mi (311.85/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 940
FIPS code 48-19528
GNIS feature ID 1373362

Decatur is a city located in and the county seat of Wise County, Texas, United States. Its population was 6,042 at the 2010 census.


Wise County was established in 1856, and Taylorsville (in honor of Zachary Taylor) was made the county seat.

Absalom Bishop, an early settler and member of the Texas Legislature, opposed naming the town after a Whig Party member, and in 1858 arranged to have the name changed to Decatur, in honor of naval hero Stephen Decatur.

In 1857, a post office was opened, and the first school was established in 1857. In the early 1860s, a courthouse was erected.

Civil War

Early settlers to northern Texas came from a variety of eastern states, and only about half came from the "deep south". As a result, some sympathized with the Unionist side during the Civil War, and violent acts against them were common. One such act occurred in October 1862, when several Unionist sympathizers were arrested and taken to nearby Gainesville for trial on charges of treason and insurrection. Seven of those arrested were hanged, and 14 more were hanged without trial. A few weeks later, more suspected Unionist supporters were hanged without trial in several north Texas communities, including 5 hanged in Decatur. The "Great Hanging at Gainesville" may have been the largest single incident of vigilante violence in U.S. history.

Post-Civil War

By the late 1860s, several stores and a hotel had been established. In 1882, the Fort Worth and Denver Railway reached the town, and Decatur was added to the Butterfield Overland mail route.

In 1881, the Wise County Old Settlers Reunion held their first meeting. This has become an annual tradition in Decatur, and the reunion continues to take place during the last full week of July.

Decatur Baptist College (now Dallas Baptist University) was established in Decatur in 1898 and was the first two-year institution of higher education in Texas. In 1965, the college moved to Dallas. The former Administration Building now houses the Wise County Heritage Museum, and is one of five sites in Decatur listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Wise County courthouse was designed by James Riely Gordon, the master architect of Texas courthouses. Completed in 1896, the building is an example of Gordon's Signature Plan, using corner entrances (making for short halls) to draw in the breeze, which was pulled up thru a central atrium like a chimney, providing excellent circulation. The exterior is Texas red granite (like the state Capitol) with terra cotta ornamentation. The almost pyramidal mass harks back to 1,000-year-old churches in the south of France. The building has been praised, with its "sister" courthouse in Waxahachie, as "the zenith of Gordon's Richardsonian Romanesque work". It is listed on the National Register.

In 1962, Eddie Wayne Hill, lead guitarist for Tommy & the Tom Toms, and drummer Joel Colbert, were killed when their convertible collided head-on with a gravel truck on state highway 114 south of Decatur. Country singer Charley Pride was more fortunate, surviving a mid-air crash with another plane over Decatur in 1980, though two people died in the crash.


Decatur is located at 33°13′40″N 97°35′24″W / 33.22778°N 97.59000°W / 33.22778; -97.59000 (33.227633, -97.589871). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.5 square miles (22 km2), all land. The highest point of elevation in the county is at the location in Decatur which houses the courthouse. The intent of placing the town on this high point of elevation was to be able to sight and ward off any incoming attacks or raids by Native Americans.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 579
1890 1,746 201.6%
1900 1,562 −10.5%
1910 1,651 5.7%
1920 2,205 33.6%
1930 2,037 −7.6%
1940 2,578 26.6%
1950 2,922 13.3%
1960 3,563 21.9%
1970 3,240 −9.1%
1980 4,104 26.7%
1990 4,252 3.6%
2000 5,201 22.3%
2010 6,042 16.2%
2019 (est.) 7,094 17.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of July 1, 2008, U.S. Census Bureau, the city had estimated population of 6,432.

As of the census of 2000, 5,201 people lived in the city. The population density was 747.6 people per square mile (288.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 81.64% White, 1.98% African American, 0.58% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 12.44% from other races, and 2.63% from two or more races. Latinos of any race were 22.53% of the population.

Of the 1,845 households, 37.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% were not families. About 24.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.19.

In the city, the population was distributed as 17.2% under the age of 18, 20.5% from 18 to 24, 38.1% from 25 to 44, 8.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,449, and for a family was $40,580. Males had a median income of $30,512 versus $21,213 for females.

Parks and recreation

In popular culture

  • "Eighter from Decatur" is a slang phrase used by craps shooters who want to roll an eight as well as the title of a song (minus the "e" in eighter) by Western Swing legend Bob Wills. In 1949, Decatur mayor Sly Hardwick added the phrase to two signs welcoming tourists to the town.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Decatur has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


In August 2008, Entegris acquired Poco Graphite, Inc. of Decatur, a supplier of specialized graphite and silicon carbide products for use in semiconductor, EDM, glass-bottling, biomedical, aerospace, and alternative-energy applications.


The City of Decatur is served by the Decatur Independent School District (DISD), the largest district in Wise County. Decatur ISD is centered in Decatur and has six campuses: Decatur High School, McCarroll Middle School, Carson Elementary School, Rann Elementary School, and Young Elementary. During the 2010–2011 school year, Decatur ISD had 3,011 students enrolled.

Weatherford College has a branch campus in Decatur.


  • The Service Broadcasting Tower Decatur, a guyed TV-mast, belongs to world's tallest constructions.
  • Decatur Municipal Airport is a city-owned public-use airport located 2 miles north of the central business district.
  • Bishop Airport is a privately owned public-use airport located 6 miles east of the central business district of Decatur.
  • Lifeteam 68, of the Air Evac Lifeteam air ambulance company, is based at Wise Regional Hospital in Decatur.
  • The city of Decatur has a full-service, award-winning public library, located at 1700 Hwy. 51 South.

Notable people

  • Trevor Brazile, world-champion rodeo cowboy
  • Roy Cooper, and Tuf Cooper: father/son world-champion rodeo cowboys
  • Mike Lee, professional bull rider
  • James Maness, professional football player
  • Joseph Fort Newton, minister, author
  • Tom Pickett, 19th-century cowboy, professional gambler, lawman, outlaw
  • William Raborn, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
  • Texas Ruby, country music singer
  • Phil Ryan, Texas Ranger, 3-term Wise County sheriff
  • Samuel M. Sampler, recipient of America's highest military award—the Medal of Honor—for his actions during World War I
  • Belle Hunt Shortridge (1858–1893), author
  • Tommy Tatum, professional baseball player
  • Guinn Williams, U.S. Representative from Texas
  • Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Western movie star

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Decatur (Texas) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Hispanic astronauts
Ellen Ochoa
Michael López-Alegría
Franklin Chang-Díaz
Serena Auñón-Chancellor
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